Jumbo-Visma win Paris-Nice stage 3 TTT as Magnus Cort takes overall lead
·7 min read
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Jumbo-Visma lived up to their billing as favourites by winning the stage 3 team time trial at Paris-Nice, but Magnus Cort moved into the yellow jersey of race leader after leading his EF Education-EasyPost team to a close second place on the 32.2km circuit around Dampierre-en-Burly.
The stage offered a novel twist on the team time trial format, with the clock stopping on the first rider across the line rather than the fourth or fifth. That change made all the difference for Cort, who sprinted clear of his companions in the closing metres in a spirited bid to surpass Jumbo-Visma’s time. Although he fell 1.4 seconds short of their mark, he had the consolation of moving into the overall lead.
Jayco-Alula performed strongly to place third at four seconds, bolstering Simon Yates’ overall chances, while Groupama-FDJ took third at 14 seconds to keep David Gaudu in the hunt. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) delivered a late, lone acceleration to limit his losses to 23 seconds, and his haul of bonus seconds on the previous two stages means that his overall deficit to Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) is just 11 seconds ahead of Wednesday’s summit finish at Les Loges des Gardes.
“In the end, we had hoped to gain even more, but we’ll take every second we can get,” said Vingegaard, who now lies fifth overall at 3 seconds. “I’m very happy with the outcome.”
As befits an outfit with rouleurs of the calibre of Vingegaard, Foss, Rohan Dennis, Jan Tratnik and Edoardo Affini, Jumbo-Visma opted for a broadly traditional approach to the time trial, carrying six riders into the final 1,500 metres before they began to peel off one by one.
Foss produced a long effort on Vingegaard’s behalf before the Tour de France champion took over with a rasping acceleration in the final kilometre. That effort was enough to put Jumbo-Visma ahead of the previous leaders Jayco-Alula and it initially looked set to put Vingegaard’s teammate Nathan Van Hooydonck into the yellow jersey.
They hadn’t reckoned, however, on EF Education-EasyPost’s late charge on the back end of the course. Stefan Bissegger, Neilson Powless, et al were 10 seconds down on Jumbo-Visma at the 16.7km mark, but they finished strongly, teeing up Cort for his searing finishing effort. It wasn’t quite enough to snatch stage victory, but it meant the yellow jersey passed from one Dane to another after Mads Pedersen and Trek-Segafredo came in 45 seconds down.
“For sure I’m very happy now and you can’t expect to come in yellow – but we were dreaming big today,” Cort said. “We had a very strong team for this team time trial, so it’s not completely unexpected. I quite liked the course here. It wasn’t very technical but there were some rolling hills, so it was about catching that speed and sitting there doing good turns.”
In the overall standings, Cort holds a one-second lead over Van Hooydonck, with Michael Matthews (Jayco-Alula) third at three seconds. Vingegaard, fifth at three seconds, is the best placed of the pre-race favourites, with Yates one place and four seconds further back and Pogačar 10th overall at 14 seconds.
How it unfolded
The change in format prompted plenty of conjecture beforehand – and even inspired UAE Team Emirates to put together a mini camp in Monaco last week to work on their strategy – but not every rouleur was convinced of its merits.
“I’m not a big fan of it, I must say,” said Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ). “For me, a team time trial is a team effort. It can be three four five riders, I don’t care so much about taking the time on the first rider.”
As it turned out, Küng was one of the day’s outstanding performers, effectively towing his leader David Gaudu through the final kilometres of the stage in a rather lopsided Trofeo Baracchi-effort that leaves the Frenchman handily placed in 11th overall at 17 seconds.
Küng’s misgivings about the format were shared by many, and there seemed to be two roughly competing schools of thought among teams. Some, like Bora-Hansgrohe – sixth at 25 seconds – and Ineos Grenadiers – 10th at 48 seconds – treated it largely like a regular team time trial, hitting the final kilometre with most of their team still intact.
Others, like UAE Team Emirates, were more obviously in the business of catapulting their protected rider into the final part of the course. Not that Pogačar was affording himself much protection – the Slovenian put in some lengthy turns at the beginning of the UAE Team Emirates effort, almost distancing teammate Felix Großschartner in the process.
Großschartner managed to fight his way back on and the Austrian went on to be a strong performer, joining Mikkel Bjerg in accompanying Pogačar as far as the final kilometre. Bjerg then delivered a leadout of sorts before Pogačar sprinted for the line, limiting his losses on Jumbo-Visma’s collective might to 23 seconds.
Vingegaard, for his part, looked very smooth indeed as part of Jumbo-Visma’s winning effort, and he has recouped the time he lost in time bonuses to move ahead of Pogačar in the overall standings. The balance tips imperceptibly in his favour as a result, but, in truth, three days into this race, there is still little to separate the two favourites. Wednesday’s summit finish should reveal more.
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